Economic forecasts for 2019 haven’t been the most glowing, and that has plenty of people worried about what a weak economy could mean for them personally, from job losses to a hit to retirement-savings accounts.
“It is true that we are in the late stages of the current economic cycle,” says Stash J. Graham, managing director of Graham Capital Wealth Management.
“The debate is about whether we will have an economic slowdown or an all-out recession.”
For those worried about what the coming months might bring, this could be a good time to take stock of your portfolio and perhaps make adjustments.
“Some of it comes down to what your life objectives are and what your risk tolerance is,” Graham says. “Are you the kind of person who can ride out a down market without losing a wink of sleep, confident that a rebound will happen eventually? Or will you be stressed out?”
Graham offers three tips on how to start preparing your portfolio for potentially bad times:
- Take a deep breath. People often let emotions rather than facts drive their decisions, Graham says. Many investors panic if they fear a recession, and they make changes that cause what would have been a temporary loss to become a permanent loss. Other investors are ruled by a different emotion – greed – and take chances that they probably shouldn’t.
- Think long-term. Both recessions and recoveries come and go, so it’s always good to keep in mind that old phrase “this too shall pass,” Graham says. If you stay focused on the long term, rather than the moment, you may be able to avoid costly mistakes. This is especially true if you’re young and retirement is still decades away.
- Reduce risk. Even the young and adventurous should want to make sure they have a sound investment strategy and aren’t just rolling the dice. Having a high tolerance for risk is one thing. Gambling away your future is quite another. So, before the next recession arrives, Graham says, examine ways you can reduce at least some of the risk in your portfolio. If you are already at or near retirement age, you may want to take the risk level down quite a bit if you haven’t already.
You don’t have as many years to recover before you start spending from your savings.
“It always important to remember that the answers about what to do with your portfolio won’t be the same for everyone,” Graham says. “Your personal circumstances should be the driving force, rather than what’s happening in the market on any given day. The right move for your neighbor or your co-worker isn’t necessarily the right move for you.”
Meanwhile, economists recently put the risk of a U.S. recession at the highest in more than six years amid mounting dangers from financial markets, a trade war with China and the federal-government shutdown.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg earlier this month saw a median 25 percent chance of a slump in the next 12 months, up from 20 percent in the December survey. The Federal Reserve is now projected to keep interest rates steady in the first quarter, instead of raising them, before two increases total this year, down from four moves in 2018.
The median projection for 2019 economic growth edged down to 2.5 percent following 2.9 percent in 2018 as the boost from fiscal stimulus fades. Growth is still expected to be buoyed by a strong jobs market, rising wages and some lingering effects of tax cuts. If the expansion that began in 2009 lasts until July, it would mark 10 years and become the country’s longest on record.
“It’s not our call that there’s a recession coming soon by any means, but financial conditions have tightened materially over the past two months, you have ongoing trade issues that are weighing on global growth, and you’re seeing business confidence waning a bit,” said Brett Ryan, a U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank AG. “The government shutdown weighs on business confidence and could weigh on consumer confidence.”
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